Ahh, sleep. 70% of Americans (including children) are not getting enough of it. Most of us are tired, right now!
It has been shown that children who lack sleep are more likely to be inattentive and show opposition to given instructions. Read: sleep is especially important for kids who are already experiencing troubles with focus and attention. So, what's a busy parent to do when it comes to the nightly struggle of fighting with your little one who just wants ‘5 more minutes!’ before bedtime? A nightly family routine is a great first step.
Having a set routine helps children manage their time and activities. If they know bedtime is coming up soon, they'll start thinking about the tasks that need to be completed beforehand. And once a routine has been established and followed for some time, your child's body will become habituated to it, and automatically know when to start winding down in preparation for sleep.
Here are 5 quick tips to make bedtime a breeze:
1. Calm down
It’s hard to transition from a lively and fast-paced environment to a bed where you're immediately expected to fall asleep. A transition period makes the switch much smoother and easier on your child.
About an hour before lights out, start to get your home into a calmer state:
- Avoid physical activities
- Turn off the TV
- Put the tablets and electronics up for the evening (yes, yours too!)
- Dim the lights
- Diffuse calming essential oils such as lavender, clary sage or bergamot (this affordable diffuser doubles as a nightlight!)
- Maybe have a light snack
- Get everyone bathed and into PJ’s
- Relax (read a book, chat, play calming music, etc.)
You’ll notice that your child will be able to wind down quicker and fall asleep without as much of a fight.
To further ensure a calm atmosphere, make sure your child is not doing anything in their bed during the day, like homework or playing. Their bed should be for sleeping, and nothing else, in order to help their bodies know that it is time to go to sleep when they get into bed.
2. Make it Enjoyable
You want to make sure you are creating positive associations with bedtime, so try and incorporate something that your child enjoys. For example, 30 minutes before bedtime:
- Let them pick their PJ’s out
- Give them a few options of calming music/sounds to play
- Have them select a story to read together
- Chat about their day, what they liked learning at school, their goals, etc.
The idea is to end the night on a positive note as your child drifts off to Sleepytown.
Don't know where to find sleepy sounds? We recommend the Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories app for kids ages 4-9, or the Calm app for older kids (both of which can be connected to an Alexa device to eliminate screen activity).
3. Keep It consistent
One of the most important things to note about a bedtime routine is that it needs to stay consistent, even on weekends. Of course there will be special occasions and maybe an extended vacation or two throughout the year, but try to stick to the routine as best as you can so that at the beginning of the week or whenever vacation is over, you aren’t back to the struggle of getting everyone into bed in a timely fashion without any arguing or negative experiences.
4. Know how much is enough
Below is a chart from Dr. Joel Nigg and Dr. Elizabeth Super showing how much sleep children in various age groups need each night, and recommended times to start your family’s bedtime routine. Make sure your routine matches up with what your child needs!
5. Use a bedtime checklist
Routine should make things easier for both kids and parents. Using a checklist as part of your routine will help to keep your child on-task when getting ready for bed, and give you a break from having to direct them from task to task as much.
Here's a basic "Bedtime Routine Checklist" we've made...enter your information below, then click the link to download and print for your child!
To read more on how to help your child focus, check out our EBook.